Currans attend Olympic event

Published 8:32 pm Friday, August 3, 2012

Debbie Curran, of Suffolk, right, poses with Olympics volunteer Maeve Connor at the ExCeL Centre in London last Saturday. The Currans took in a table tennis match and watched the opening ceremonies from their hotel room.

As the Olympics have unfolded in London this week, one local couple was there to witness the pageantry, excitement and drama of sports firsthand.

The Rev. Keith Curran of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and his wife Debbie, a teacher at King’s Fork Middle School, were in Edinburgh, Scotland, for two weeks experiencing Presbyterian history. The couple is staying at the Edinburgh flat of the Rev. Robin Lee, who filled in for him at the Bridge Road church during July.

The Currans took advantage of being in that corner of the world to travel to London for the Olympics. Their adventure, however, did not turn out as planned.

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

The $200 hotel room they booked online, which looked “spacious and modern” on the website, according to Curran, turned out to have peeling paint, creaky twin beds with metal frames and a toilet that didn’t flush, he said.

They watched the opening ceremonies on a television that hung at an angle on the wall.

“The discomfort was worthwhile, as just being in London at this historic moment was splendid,” Curran wrote in an email.

The next day, the Currans attended a table tennis match at the ExCeL Centre, paying $400 for a pair of tickets to see about three and a half hours of sporting.

It was the only event for which tickets were available on Saturday morning, Curran said.

“Much different than the rec-room version, Olympic table tennis is a fast-paced, intense and exciting sport that boasted teams from almost every country,” Curran wrote.

“The mood in the arena was electric,” he continued. “Many there followed the sport, and we overheard lots of technical jargon about the skill and level of play of the competitors.”

Curran said there were four matches going at a time, with four television cameras at each table. The two Americans who they saw play were defeated quickly, but they got to see one match that went on for more than an hour.

“We were impressed with a woman from the Ukraine and a woman from Belarus,” Curran wrote. The Chinese players, who traditionally dominate table tennis, did not play when the Currans were in attendance because it was a preliminary round.

The Currans also toured London and met with many volunteers who were “all smiling,” Curran said. Visitors took photos with volunteers and British soldiers working security.

“We found the Londoners helpful and welcoming and excited that the world was coming to them this summer,” Curran said. “As you can imagine, Olympic symbols and flags were everywhere.”

Curran plans to return to his church on Aug. 21, which will conclude his three-month sabbatical leave.